Your home should be a tranquil and stress-free environment. After a long and busy day, the last thing you want is to return to a hectic and chaotic house. It can further exacerbate feelings of stress, which can be bad for your health and emotional well-being. So how do you create a stress-free home environment? Thankfully there are many small changes you can make to improve the atmosphere at home. Whether it’s through the ancient art of Feng Shui or keeping the place tidy, you can feel some tangible benefits with only a small amount of effort.
Many of us may be inadvertently creating stress for ourselves at home. Whether it’s through our furniture, clutter, food choices, or sleep hygiene, parts of our daily routine can be detrimental to our lives. By making changes in some key areas, it’s possible to reduce tension and create a more relaxing vibe at home. In this article we’ll explore some of the areas in which you can make improvements, and how these changes go to help reducing stress at home.
Creating a Stress-Free Home with Feng Shui
You may have heard the term Feng Shui (often pronounced Fung Shwei). The term itself is Chinese, and roughly translates to ‘wind and water.’ But what exactly is it?
What is Feng Shui?
This ancient Chinese art dates back thousands of years. It can be considered to be the art of placement, linking us to our environment. One of the core concepts revolves around facilitating the flow of Chi. This is the life force that animates the world around us and permeates all things. The intention is to ensure that the Chi can flow to maximum effect, without any obstructions. Although it is usually associated with a variety of traditional Chinese belief systems such as Buddhism, the practice has been in vogue in the West for a number of years now.
How Does Feng Shui Work?
There are in fact three different schools of thought when it comes to Feng Shui. However, the most common way to apply the principles to a home environment uses a bagua map. This highlights key areas of your space layout and allows you to identify where certain elements of your furniture should go. Below are some of the key pieces of advice to Feng Shui your home to reduce stress:
- Remove Clutter. A study by UCLA’s Centre on Everyday Lives of Families showed that clutter at home can trigger stress hormones to spike. An important tenant of Feng Shui suggests that clutter absorbs positive energy, even if it’s out of sight. Removing unnecessary belongings could help reduce stress levels.
- Balance Your Rooms. Another central pillar of Feng Shui is the five elements; fire, earth, water, metal, and wood. Try to balance your room by incorporating elements of each into your space. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical element either; colours can be used as a symbolic way to strike this balance.
- Use Mirrors. Mirrors are said to reflect energy, so the positioning of them in your home should help to channel positive energy. If you can angle some of nature’s beauty and energy into your home, all the better. Try to avoid reflecting items that produce a negative energy, such as a garbage bin.
- Don’t forget your garden. Your garden should also be a place of peace and tranquility. Thankfully, Feng Shui principles can be applied to your outside space. Once again, you’ll want to focus on creating an area that allows energy to flow. A tidy, well-kept space with bright colours could be its own little haven for you.
How to Create a Stress-Free Zone
Feng Shui might not be for everyone, but it’s hard to deny that many of the fundamentals can create a relaxing space. If you don’t have time to study the in-depth aspects of the ancient practice, we’ve highlighted some further steps that can help to create a relaxing space and reduce stress in your home. Implementing even a few of these could really transform your life, both in and out of the home.
1. Create a Room Dedicated to Relaxing
Everyone needs their own space sometimes. This can be difficult if you live with multiple other people, but it’s not impossible. To reduce stress at home, try creating a dedicated relaxation room. This could feasibly be anywhere; a bedroom, a living room, a spare room, or an office. What you need to do is cultivate an atmosphere where you know you can relax in. If you need a breather from your chaotic life or need some alone time, a room where you can relax in can be a lifesaver. How you approach it depends somewhat on the individual. However, you should try and think about the things that allow you to relax. Is it peace and quiet? Maybe it’s a comfy tub chair?
How it Helps:
Having a dedicated relaxation space gives you an area where you can unwind. It can make the process of relaxing a lot easier and is conducive to practices such as meditation. Even if you’re spending a short time each day gathering your own thoughts and meditating can help reduce the psychological and physiological symptoms of stress. Creating a space where you can undertake this is the first step. It should have a calming impact on your home, for you and others.
2. Do Simple Daily Tasks
Love it or hate it, a routine can make life more straightforward. Try to have a list of small daily chores that you follow. Simple tasks such as making the bed, washing the dishes, and tidying up can all help to reduce elements of stress. Not only do you have a cleaner house, you’ll find that these small achievements will build up. This can result in a feeling of accomplishment, giving you further momentum to tackle a stressful day ahead. It also takes some of the weight off your mind knowing that your house is tidy.
How it Helps:
We outlined some of the benefits of these daily tasks above. However, there are some other measurable benefits too. A 2017 study around physical activity showed that being active can prevent heart disease and death. Researchers at McMaster University carried out the study which looked at 130,000 people. They found that everyday activities such as commuting, having an active job, and doing housework could contribute towards meeting daily activity guidelines. Doing so could reduce the risk of death was reduced by 28%, whilst the risk of heart disease decreased by 20%. So, not only does doing simple housework tasks give you a cleaner house, less stress, and a sense of accomplishment, it could improve your overall physical health too.
3. Declutter Your Home
We’ve already mentioned this in relation to Feng Shui, but it’s worth covering in more detail. Clutter can have a negative impact on your life. Although some people claim to thrive in a messy environment, there’s very little evidence that supports this, unless they have a disorder related to hoarding. There have been various studies that show how clutter can cause stress. By removing an overabundance of stuff in your living environment, you’ll hopefully feel a lot calmer and more organized. This in itself can help to reduce the impact of stress at home.
How it Helps:
Your brain can’t focus properly if there is too much going on around you. Being surrounded by an array of unnecessary items can be distracting, making you less productive. This in itself can cause stress, particularly if you work from home. Clutter can also reduce your ability to think creatively, meaning it’s easy to become stuck in a rut. Whether or not you subscribe to the Feng Shui philosophy, it’s evident that being engulfed with your belongings can clutter your mind and cause tension in your household.
4. Use More Houseplants and Flowers in the Home
Houseplants are fantastic, for many reasons. Adding some greenery to your home can brighten the place up and bring some extra character. It also gives you something to focus your attention on. There have been various studies into the benefits of having houseplants and flowers in the home, so try adding a few in different rooms. According to Feng Shui teachings, plants can help remove negative energies and connect your home with nature.
How it Helps:
A 2015 study demonstrated how houseplants can reduce stress. Researchers examined how participants responded to interacting with plants compared to completing computer-based tasks. The results showed the plant interactions felt more comfortable and soothed. There are other benefits too. Having plants at home will help to purify the air, which can often be polluted without us realizing. Certain types of plants have been shown to absorb toxins from the environment. They can also humidify the room, which is important for respiratory health. Finally, indoor plants have been shown to boost creativity and productivity. All of these factors can contribute to minimizing household stress, giving you a cleaner, more creative and relaxing environment to live in.
5. Unplug Electronics When Not in Use
You may be surprised just how many electronic devices still draw power, even when they’re in standby mode. Unplugging these devices when you’re not using them can save you money on your electricity bill. It can also help reduce power consumption, which is good for the environment. These devices are often around us at all times. Mobile phones, computers, TVs, tablets, have become part of our everyday life. However, they can cause extra stress. Unplugging them whilst not in use could also help in creating a stress-free home.
How it Helps:
Since internet-connected devices have become so ubiquitous, it’s rare that we’re not connected. Many of us know the feeling of constantly checking our phones, emails, and social media accounts. However, studies have shown that this constant checking can create a great deal of stress. Although this constant connection has many benefits in our society, it can have negative impacts too. Parents may find it harder to bond with their children when both are distracted by their electronic devices. Unplugging your devices and having some downtime can definitely help you to de-stress. You may find you have more time to do the things you enjoy and spend more time with the people you care about, free from distractions.
6. Use Calming Colours in the Home
One element of our homes that may surprisingly cause stress is the colours of your walls. Although most of us focus only on the design or stylistic choice of a colour, it could have wider implications. If you’re decorating, or even creating a relaxation room, your colour choice could go a long way to creating a calming atmosphere. Gentle, natural hues are best, for both your walls and your furniture. A peaceful light blue or green theme can work wonders, as can other muted tones such as white. Try not to have any clashing colours or overly vibrant themes. These can certainly work well in some rooms, but may not be conducive to a relaxing vibe.
How it Helps:
There is a great deal of evidence linking colour to behavior, so it’s no surprise that this is true in the home. Red is good for detail-orientated tasks, whereas blue is better for creativity. However, red can also raise the blood pressure and create a more stressful environment. It should therefore be avoided as a colour choice for the bedroom and other places of relaxation. Yellow can also make people more likely to lose their temper. Conversely, blue and green colours can reduce stress and blood pressure, and create a more calming environment.
Stress and Sleep Hygiene
Now that we’ve looked at some small changes you can make to create a stress-free zone, it’s time to examine another important matter. This gets an entire section, as there are a lot of factors that impact it. Sleep is vital to our survival. However, not getting enough sleep can cause stress, whilst stress can cause you to have difficulties sleeping. It’s a vicious cycle that can soon take its toll. Having good sleep hygiene is important for a restful and stress-free night of sleep. But what exactly is it?
What is Sleep Hygiene?
Sleep hygiene is the term that is used to describe a number of habits and practices that are necessary for a good night’s sleep. Having good sleep hygiene has many benefits for both your physical and mental health. Below are some of the elements the comprise sleep hygiene:
- Get enough. A lack of sleep can make the day ahead difficult. Too much sleep can cause you to feel lethargic. It’s therefore important to get the right balance. The exact amount needed depends on the individual, but elements such as age play a role. Adults aged 26-64 need around 7-9 hours a night.
- Limit your nap time. Although naps can be a fantastic way to refresh and feel energized, anything more than 20-30 minutes in the afternoon can potentially disrupt your sleep at night, depending on how long the gap is.
- Avoid stimulants. Caffeine and nicotine are well known for their ability to make us feel alert. This isn’t what you need when you’re trying to fall asleep. Try to restrict your intake of stimulants, as well as alcohol, near bedtime. Recent evidence suggests that you should cut off the coffee at around 2pm.
- Exercise. A little daily exercise can go a long way, as we saw with housework. It can also help you sleep better if you get as little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise a day.
- Have a routine. Another point that we mentioned above was having a routine for daily tasks. Your bedtime routine should be equally balanced, as it allows your body to realize that it’s bedtime. Try to avoid blue light from your phone screen or computer for as long as possible before bed.
How Can Sleep Hygiene Create a Stress-free Environment?
A lack of sleep can induce stress. It’s therefore vital that you get enough quality rest. As other studies have proved, sleep can help you feel restored. However, one good night’s sleep is not enough to combat the effects of stress. You need to have a routine of good sleep hygiene to feel the maximum benefits. Doing so can form the basis of your stress-free home life. You’ll have more energy to do the things you need to do, more routine around which to structure your life, and more time to implement other stress-reducing tactics.
Sleep has been studied at great length, and many of the conclusions suggest the same. A good bedtime routine, along with sufficient sleep, is an important part of a healthy life. It can impact both mental and physical health.
Creating a Stress-Free Home: Summary
From what we’ve examined so far, it’s clear that there are many factors that can induce stress. However, your home should be the one place you can spend time without such stresses. Unfortunately, a lot of us also experience stresses at home. After all, life can be very demanding. Thankfully you have the power in your hands to reduce anxieties and tensions in your household. By making many small changes, you can make gradual progress in creating a stress-free environment.
Structure is an important part of minimizing tension. By performing a set of simple household chores every day, your house will be tidier, you’ll be getting exercise, and you may feel a sense of accomplishment. A clutter-free house is another important aspect. Regardless of whether you practice Feng Shui, it’s evident that a messy house can be distracting and stressful. The colour scheme of your rooms may also have a significant impact.
One final, vital element surrounding stress is sleep. It’s possible to get stuck in a vicious cycle of stress impacting sleep, and a lack of sleep causing further stress. Some of the changes you can make to your home can also benefit your night-time habits. Sleep hygiene should be considered by anyone experiencing stress at home. Getting enough sleep at the right times can work wonders for your mental and physical health.
30th May 2018
Office and marketing manager for Sloane & Sons